A state-of-the-art Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down in Shanghai this week from Abu Dhabi on its first flight into China. The new Dreamliner features the airline’s next-generation Business and Economy Class cabins and will operate with 299 seats, 28 in Business Class and 271 in Economy, representing a 14 percent capacity increase on the route.
Flight EY862 from Abu Dhabi departed at 10.25pm from the Middle East arriving in Shanghai at 11.10am. The inaugural flight from Shanghai (EY867) departed again on August 3 at 00.30am, arriving back in Abu Dhabi at 6.15am the same day. To mark the event, guests were presented with commemorative certificates in Chinese and English, featuring Shanghai’s iconic landmark, the Oriental Pearl Tower.
Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer Peter Baumgartner said, “Since launching flights between Shanghai and Abu Dhabi four years ago, we have experienced first-hand the huge growth of China’s outbound tourism market and enjoyed strong demand from both business and leisure travellers.”
“The decision to upgrade to the Boeing 787 reflects the importance of Shanghai and China to the airline. Shanghai is a modern metropolis and a global economic, financial, trading and shipping centre, which underlines its importance within Etihad Airways’ global network and supports the introduction of the new aircraft.”
Baumgartner continued, “The new Boeing 787 services will help to support the increasing demand for outbound tourism from Shanghai and its surrounding cities in Eastern China. The additional capacity will enable more Chinese business and leisure travellers to enjoy seamless one-stop connections over the Abu Dhabi hub to over 40 destinations across the Gulf region, Europe, Africa and South America.”
China has recently surpassed the USA as the biggest business travel market in the world, according to the Global Business Travel Association, representing US $ 291.2 billion spending on business travel in 2015. The Dreamliner will assist Etihad Airways’ growing reputation amongst the business community in China, with the aircraft specifically catering to the long-haul business market. The airline’s world-renowned guest experience begins well before departure and lasts long after arrival. For example, its chauffeur service is available in over 30 cities globally including Beijing and Shanghai. At Terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi International Airport, guests pass through a dedicated premium check-in facility into the luxury of an exclusive Business Class Lounge, while a new flagship First Class Lounge & Spa opened at the end of May for first class guests and eligible Etihad Airways Partners (EAP) Platinum Frequent Flyers.
On the aircraft, the Business Studios offer direct aisle access, a fully-flat bed of up to 80.5 inches long, and an increase of 20 percent in personal space. Upholstered in the finest Poltrona Frau leather, the Business Studio is equipped with an in-seat massage and pneumatic cushion control system which enables guests to adjust the firmness and comfort of their seat. Each Business Studio has an 18-inch personal touch-screen TV with noise-cancelling headsets.
Business guests also have access to three choices of main course on the menu, with a dine-on-demand option for travellers who wish to choose when to eat. Each business guest also receives a customised Etihad Airways LUXE amenity kit, inspired by some of the iconic cities on the airline’s extensive global network. Passengers on board have access to a dedicated food and beverage manager, a multi-national crew and the airline’s well known Flying Nannies, who provide assistance to parents travelling with young children.
For inflight entertainment, Etihad Airways currently operates the latest Panasonic eX3 IFE system on its flagship fleet of Boeing 787s and Airbus A380s. Guests can also enjoy mobile connectivity, access to onboard Wi-Fi and seven satellite channels of live TV on many aircraft.
For economy passengers, the airline’s Smart Seats provide enhanced comfort with a unique ‘fixed wing’ headrest, adjustable lumbar support, a seat width of approximately 19 inches and an 11.1” personal TV monitor on each seat. The aircraft has been designed for optimum long-haul travel with enhancements including humidity controls while air pressure levels are set to ensure a smoother flight allowing guests to arrive feeling fresher on arrival.
Shanghai is the seventh destination in the world to be served by Etihad Airways’ B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft with the aircraft also deployed to Perth, Brisbane, Singapore, Washington DC, Zurich and Düsseldorf. Etihad Airways first launched a five-times-a-week two-class Airbus A330-200 services to Shanghai in March 2012. With a further 62 Boeing 787 Dreamliners scheduled for delivery over the next few years, the aircraft will become the mainstay of Etihad Airways’ long-haul fleet.